So here you are nearing the emotional vortex known as middle age, or over the hill, depending on what age group you are teaching that day and the quality of the mirror staring back at you.
Despite blithely practicing the whole “ignorance is bliss” axiom for many years, you have entered a period of semi- ( I’m being generous with the prefix) enlightenment. In other words, you do Buddhist meditation for at least 75 seconds a day, stretch at regular intervals, journal, take constitutional walks with the dog which include the blasphemous poop scopping and don’t scream at green lights for not allowing you to text longer nor red lights for interfering with your gas pedal fondnessl.
You even do yoga stretches outside on your patio every other morning and buy both brussel sprouts and almond milk at Whole Foods, the latter of which actually gets used. And you can remember at least four of the pillars of Buddhism’s eightfold path.
Bob Dylan would be proud.
Although you haven’t quite reached the Deepak Chopra stage yet nor do people look at you and say, “Now that’s the kind of eastern-minded, zen master in training I could learn a thing or two from”, your friends do notice you are more relaxed. For example, Paul says, “Geez, there is something different about you. It’s not the Prius nor the few gray hairs. But you just seem like a semi-normal, half grown up.
And your other friend Peter remarks that he can actually trust that any metaphysical advice you give him is not coming from the same person who just screamed at an eighty four year old lady for being unable to locate her credit card while trying to pay for groceries.
Even better, both your wife and mother no longer refer to you as Peter Pan
Your self-applied nickname is Me 3.0
Now the maturity kicker. You wake up early. As in before dawn early. And you have adopted a whole sequence of “growth inducing”, carpe diem styled rituals which include well, a bunch of things you thought only incense lighting, new agey, “come see my orchids and tomatoes growing in my homemade organic garden” kind of people did. And within this new discipline, you can go an entire early morning hour without fondling your phone..
Melania Trump Donald Trump
So here’s the part where hopefully you my legions readers come can relate.
Your chi is strong as you have done all the physical and spiritual calisthenics necessary to have a good day. And feeling this mojo, you decide to go to the grocery story (substitute Starbucks, the gym or some other popular close-to-home destination) prior to launching into your day of paid work, or in some cases, chasing your two year old around the house for several hours.
As you are being proactive, you are also doing mental multitasking, perhaps composing work-related emails in your head or conjuring several verses for a short story or poem you plan to write. And if entering lets say Publix,remembering the one or two things you omitted to put on your grocery list such as food and drink.
Entering the premises, the omnipresent AC which is set at freezer temperature provides a pleasant diversion from the heat. But then out comes the snake in the grass, the acoustic sneak attack that I can only describe as the inner peace disruption equivalent of chalk squeaking against the blackboard –
No I don’t mean the dental office, Elton John variety that I still find really annoying because of all the unnecessary flashbacks it causes. And definitely not real music such as classic rock, classical or jazz. I mean, the “If I could pick three songs right now that I wish were banned from the airwaves forever, these would be them.” type of tunes. What’s worse is the decibel level. It’s 8:30 am and the store owners think you at an early 90’s gay friendly nightclub sometime after midnight.
I’ll give you a quick sample:
“He’s a coldhearted snake look in into his eyes……”
Oh, oh he’s been telling lies he’s a lover boy”
Disclaimer – I had to look up the second verse
This lyric and others like it repeat themselves for the next three minutes. But it only gets worse. After there is a bad Madonna song and then I think something from George Michael, or Wham or Culture Club. And it’s loud. Like aerobics class loud
My inner ranting begins – “If I wanted to listen to music, I would have stayed in the car. But I came here to complete my zen morning and run an errand I previously would have avoided.” …. And look at my shopping cart, everything fresh.. But it’s too late – the early 90’s music zombies have poisoned my train of thought.
I rush to pick up the rest of my groceries, completely forgetting to buy milk and dinner meats. And as I am standing on line, I don’t know at whom I am angrier. The store and others like it which continually blare bad music against the customers will or me, for sort of knowing the lyrics to the songs and having, yes in the name full disclosure, bought both the Paula Abdul and Madonna albums of note back in the day.
As I am writing this, the answer is creeping all too close to perfect clarity.
Either way I feel violated.
I make it to the check out counter and get the same question I get every time I am at the grocery store -“Hi. How are you?”
I wonder if the cashiers ever get tired of asking this question. And as I always do, I start preparing a paragraph sized response. Except in this case, I really want to spill my guts in full-length essay form
Intended response: “Well Mabel, thanks for asking. You know I was doing great, like attaboy great until about eight minutes ago. And although I was a little miffed to find out that the couscous and pasta were five aisles apart and can’t figure out why there is no pre-packaged fresh salmon, I found the overall item-locating experience to be quite satisfying. Oh and I went for a twenty minute run this morning. But in all honesty I have to tell you that my auditory mechanisms have been assaulted. The music they play in here sends me on a 25 year flashback. Not the good kind. Not that modern pop is any better. But why is this ear splitting nonsense blared almost everywhere I go . I’m literally afraid to walk into once favorite hangouts because of this grenade attack on my eardrums. Who is the DJ around here? It better not be you Mabel and assuming it’s not, I would like to have a little word with that person. I don’t know if you value peace of mind… but I do. And seriously, what is up with the AC? Any dead bodies I should know of?
(I’m discovering a little more of my inner Larry David every day).
Actual response – I am fine thank you. And I found everything I was looking for with ease!